Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect
South Carolina law requires that certain professionals report known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, because they have unique opportunities to observe and interact with children. The following professionals are mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect:
- Healthcare professionals: physicians, nurses, dentists, optometrists, medical examiners or coroners or their employees, emergency medical services, mental health or allied health professionals
- Educational professionals: teachers, counselors, principals, school attendance officers
- Social or public assistance professionals: substance abuse treatment staff, childcare workers, foster parents
- Legal professionals: police or law enforcement officers, juvenile justice workers, volunteer non-attorney guardians ad litem serving on behalf of the South Carolina Guardian ad Litem program or on behalf of Richland County CASA, judges
- Undertakers, funeral home directors, or their employees
- Film processors
- Computer technicians
- Clergy, including Christian Science Practitioners or religious healers (subject to laws governing privileged communication)
However, the law encourages all persons to report.
When to Report
Mandated reporters must report abuse or neglect when, in their professional capacity, they receive information giving them reason to believe that a child’s physical or mental health has been, or may be, adversely affected by abuse or neglect. A decision to report must be based upon a reasonable belief that a child has been, or may be, abused or neglected. Thus, mandatory reporters need not have conclusive proof that a child has been abused or neglected prior to reporting abuse or neglect to the proper authorities.
A person who is required to report and fails to do so is guilty of a misdemeanor. Upon conviction, he or she may be fined up to $500 or imprisoned up to six months, or both.
How to Report Abuse or Neglect
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, contact the SCDSS 24-hour, toll-free hotline at 1-888-CARE4US or 1-888-227-3487. This hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Intake staff will assist the person making the report and assess the information provided to determine if an investigation is necessary.
Click Here To Report Abuse/Neglect Online
Whether a mandatory reporter makes the report to DSS or to law enforcement depends upon the identity of the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect. When the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect is the child’s parent, guardian, or a person responsible for the child’s welfare, mandated reporters must report to DSS office or to Law Enforcement in the county where the child resides or is found.
When the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect is not the child’s parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, the law requires that a report be made to law enforcement. All law enforcement officers are authorized to place a child in Emergency Protective Custody if the child might be in imminent and substantial danger. However, only the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction where the incident occurred has the authority to conduct an investigation. Mandated reporters who suspect that a child has died as a result of abuse or neglect are required to report to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner.
Contact 911 immediately if the situation is a life-threatening emergency. An emergency is a situation where a child appears to face an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm.
Training for Mandated Reporters
These trainings equip mandated reporters with the relevant laws regarding their role and responsibilities as mandated reporters. Participants will learn who mandated reporters are according to South Carolina law, statutory requirements and protections, signs of possible abuse and neglect, and when to make a report.
- Clergy As Mandated Reporters (En Espanol)
- Computer Techs As Mandated Reporters (En Espanol)
- Film Processors As Mandated Reporters (En Espanol)
- Reporting Institutional Abuse as a Mandated Reporter (En Espanol)
- Mandated Reporter Guide (En Espanol)
- Reporting Child Abuse Brochure (En Espanol)
- Mandated Reporter Quick Reference Guide (En Espanol)
- Safe Havens for Abandoned Infants (En Espanol)
- Information Sharing with School Personnel (En Espanol)
- Implicit Bias and Decision-Making